Biden Says US Forces Killed IS Leader During Raid In Syria

 

(AP) — An elite U.S. military force killed one of the world’s most wanted terrorists, the leader of the Islamic State group, during an overnight raid in Syria’s northwestern Idlib province, President Joe Biden said Thursday.

The raid targeted Amir Muhammad Sa’id Abdal-Rahman al-Mawla, who took over as head of the militant group on Oct. 31, 2019, just days after leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi died during a U.S. raid in the same area.

The target was also known as Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi.

The operation came as IS has been trying for a resurgence, with a series of attacks in the region, including a 10-day assault late last month to seize a prison.

U.S. special forces landed in helicopters and assaulted a house in a rebel-held corner of Syria, clashing for two hours with gunmen, witnesses said.

Residents described continuous gunfire and explosions that jolted the town of Atmeh near the Turkish border, an area dotted with camps for internally displaced people from Syria’s civil war.

First responders reported that 13 people had been killed, including six children and four women.

Biden said in a statement that he ordered the raid to “protect the American people and our allies, and make the world a safer place.” He planned to address the American public later Thursday morning.

“Thanks to the skill and bravery of our Armed Forces, we have taken off the battlefield Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi — the leader of ISIS,” Biden said in a statement. He said all Americans involved in the operation returned safely.

The two-story house, surrounded by olive trees in fields outside Atmeh, was left with its top floor shattered and blood spattered inside.

A journalist on assignment for The Associated Press and several residents said they saw body parts scattered near the site.

Most residents spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals.

The Pentagon did not initially identify the target of the raid.

“The mission was successful,” Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said in a brief statement. “There were no U.S. casualties.”

Idlib is largely controlled by Turkish-backed fighters but is also an al-Qaida stronghold and home to several of its top operatives.

Other militants, including extremists from the rival IS group, have also found refuge in the region.